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PROVIDERS: SOME DO’S AND DON’TS FOR IMPROVING PARENT/PROVIDER RELATIONSHIPS

By BARBARA J. GOFF, Ed.D

DO

  • Say positive things to the parents about their child—they’ve heard plenty of negatives over the years. Make routine phone calls with good news.
  • Arrange the individual’s team meetings at a time and place convenient for the family and allow a realistic amount of time for meaningful discussion
  • Work with families in coordinating home visits so that you can plan house activities accordingly. Remember, a special family occasion trumps any policy on visitation.
  • Provide the family with the program’s policies and procedures in writing and discuss them up front. Make sure to provide a good rationale for your policies.
  • Take the initiative to contact families about any unusual happenings involving their child. You can be sure they are going to hear about it in any case!
  • Communicate thoroughly and regularly with your supervisor about any issues you are experiencing or foresee with parents and families. You may need guidance in order to be proactive, not reactive
  • Ask the parents questions about their child. They possess a wealth of information and would love nothing more than to share it with those who need it most—you.
  • Be sensitive to parent concerns over restrictions regarding calling and visiting. While such policies serve an important function for the program; they can alienate some parents, especially those with children who are unable to articulate their experiences.
  • Tell the truth and take responsibility for your mistakes. (You will make a few.)
  • Work together to establish balanced and realistic expectations

DON’T

  • Be disrespectful or lose your temper with family members no matter how upset you may be.  Instead, respectfully end the conversation.
  • Discuss internal agency or personnel issues with family members. It only serves to confuse and create ill will.
  • Discuss confidential matters pertaining to other program participants or discuss the family member in front of other program participants
  • Contradict a parent’s decision in front of their family member
  • Believe everything an individual reports about their latest home visit…like the apple pie and quart of ice cream their mom let them eat.
  • Say you are going to do something and then not do it. Parents count on you to follow through.
  • Be afraid to ask for help…Whether it’s a new approach to managing a behavior or needing a new treadmill…most parents will do whatever it takes to support their child’s program…make assumptions

Finally

  • Don’t expect that parents are going to understand all the complications and intricacies in managing a program for several people. That’s not their job.
  • Do recognize that most families are very grateful for your support and care of their family member, even if they don’t always show it.


 

edited: 02/09/2012

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